Saturday, August 1, 2009

Power Point

Is PowerPoint making us dumb?

1 comment:

Pete Abbate said...

Nah, blogs are. Blogs reduce our attention span by only giving us short bits of information in posts. They link to articles which the reader may or may not read and provide a brief analysis which may or may not be true. They are not policed by anyone so there is no way of determining whether or not the analyses presented are accurate; readers can thus be made to believe a false interpretation of an article, paper, book, or anything else.

Hell, Twitter is even more evil. It forces us to express everything in 140 characters or less. Do you know how little you can say in 140 characters? (The preceding two sentences were 148 characters, just so you know).

I'm sorry, but I just don't buy what these guys are selling. From Dumb-dumb bullets: "Unfortunately, by using PowerPoint inappropriately, we have created a thought process centered on bullets and complex charts." This scathing statement is not an indictment of the medium itself; it is simply a complaint about how people have responded to it.

Tufte's conclusion in Wired is no better: "The practical conclusions are clear. PowerPoint is a competent slide manager and projector. But rather than supplementing a presentation, it has become a substitute for it. Such misuse ignores the most important rule of speaking: Respect your audience." Both writers admit that there is nothing inherently wrong with Microsoft's program - they simply dislike the way that it is used. Isn't that exactly the same as those who complain about blogging, or Twitter, or the fall of the newspaper industry? What about television - doesn't that make us dumber in a variety of ways (not to mention more obese)?

Compared with the totality of knowledge which is continually utilized in the evolution of a dynamic civilization, the difference between the knowledge that the wisest and that which the most ignorant individual can deliberately employ is comparatively insignificant. ~Fredrich Hayek in The Constitution of Liberty